THE environment is not just a matter for experts. It may be a complex and varied subject, but every stakeholder, whether we represent industry, public authorities, citizens, or NGOs -- all Bangladeshis must be fully involved and committed to the cause of saving the environment.
Bangladeshi public are growing more and more aware and worried about the environment. This reflects growing awareness among Bangladeshis of environmental problems and increased commitment to protecting the planet's vital resources.
The health and quality of life of future generations are dependent upon the state of the environment. Bangladesh is working to ensure a high level of well-being for every one of its citizens. We need to restore the quality of the environment and ensure that we improve our patterns of consumption and environmental behaviour. For this, the institution of awards for environment-friendly activities may serve a useful purpose. This will, in turn, encourage more sustainable development in the future
There could be one or many sponsors of such awards. Firstly, the Bangladesh government could be the sole official sponsor and organiser. Secondly, this could be an award given by the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI) in combination with all other chambers. The Bangladesh business awards for the environment could be given every two years or every year. The purpose is to spotlight companies that successfully combine supporting sustainable development with innovation and profitability.
The Bangladesh business awards for the environment can be presented by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. In order for a company to receive the award, it such first qualify in the national competition.
The Bangladesh Business Awards For the Environment can aim to highlight policies, practices, processes and products from all sectors of business in the Bangladesh economy which will help achieve 'economic and social development without detriment to the environment and natural resources upon the quality of which continued human activity and further development depend.'
The Bangladesh Business Awards For the Environment may be given in the following four categories: 1. Management; 2. Product; 3. Process; and 4. International Co-operation.
A key principle should the integration of environmental considerations into other policy areas: sustainable development requires a balance between environmental, social and economic needs. Integration of the environment in other policies can be a specific requirement for these awards.
The awards will be an opportunity to recognise and promote companies that are innovators in integrating sustainable development into their activities. Bangladesh will have to prepare an Environmental Action Programme for the next 10 years to give this concept a new sense of purpose and direction to the country's environmental policy. It will clearly set out the objectives for the next decade and determine the actions that will need to be taken within a five to ten year period if those goals are to be achieved. The programme will have to take into account discussions with stakeholders and inputs from business, NGOs and the general public. It can call upon the active involvement and accountability of all sections of society in the search for innovative, workable and sustainable solutions to the environmental problems we face.
The key environmental challenges facing Bangladesh have already been identified. Although overall responsibility is shared with governments and consumers, business has a key role to play in addressing these issues. Initiatives for bringing improvements in a number of areas merit attention have such areas may include: greenhouse gases and climate change; air quality; health and environment; solid waste; soil degradation; coastal and marine areas; and biodiversity (wildlife and habitats)
Sustainable development, extra is defined as 'development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. For business organisations, sustainable development requires balanced progress towards three inter-connected objectives:
· strong financial performance: profitability and competitiveness bringing benefits to shareholders and securing long-term growth and security of employment for the future;
· environmental excellence: preventing pollution and optimising resource efficiency in their operations and developing products or services with minimal life-cycle environmental impacts;
· social responsibility: meeting the wider concerns of stakeholders (eg employees, suppliers, customers, local communities) over issues such as working conditions, human rights and community involvement.
In this connection, the eligibility criteria for exemplary environmental management can include the following: management for sustainable development, new technologies for sustainable and sustainable products and services.
The purpose of such awards should be to highlight good environmental practice and to draw attention to the benefits achieved as an example and inspiration to others.
Sustainable tourism award can also be considered for organisations and individuals who have promoted eco-tourism. The goal of sustainable development is a better quality of life for all, now and for generations to come. It is often defined as 'development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. This means ensuring that economic development occurs without damaging the environment or over-exploiting natural resources, and that its benefits are shared equitably in society.
Furthermore, the process award can be promoted for developing and adapting new production technology that promoting sustainable development in particular.
The case for green awards merits here attention. The green awards 2006 can be a new, and unique, inspiring national event that will showcase the value of sustainable development through powerful communications and marketing strategies. The awards can spotlight brands or organisations that have demonstrated their commitment to these issues in a creative manner in the media.
Meanwhile, as the role of an environmental manager is continuing to increase in both prominence and importance with companies and organisations becoming increasingly aware of their environmental responsibilities, the role of such persons should be acknowledged by instituting an award like 'Environmental Manager of the year'. This will be give due importance to the need for ensuring an improved environmental performance.
Besides, the proposals for Educational Institutions Environment Awards, President's Awards for Enterprise for Sustainable Development, Living Wetlands Award, Divisional Environment Awards for Large or small business etc., deserve consideration. The Education Institutions Environment Awards should be purported to recognising and rewarding examples of sustainable development from school and Colleges to build environment schemes. There can be various categories including, pre-school, schools, colleges, universities etc. President's Awards for Enterprise: Sustainable Development The Award for Sustainable Development should aim at recognising and encouraging the outstanding performance of commercially successful products, services and approaches to management which have major benefits for the environment, society and the wider economy. Living Wetlands Awards will help recognise and reward projects that demonstrate the multiple functions and sustainable use of wetland habitats. Divisional Environment Awards for Large or small business in each Division of Bangladesh should be allowed to compete for the honour of becoming Environment Business of the Year for that particular Division. Water and Wastewater Projects Environment Awards can be instituted for rewarding the leading proponents of the practical application of science and engineering for environmental improvement. Such awards can focus on innovative design in water and wastewater projects.
There can also be Bangladesh Environment and Media Awards. Here award can be given for the best coverage of environmental issues or events by a news or current affairs programme. Stories can be local, national or international - or a mix of all three.
Meanwhile, a one-off programme or series strand can be considered for Best Television Documentary Award which can be given in recognition of the most creative and informative treatment of its subject, be it the impacts of environmental change, or the communication of ideas or debate of environment related events.
The writer is a former Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest.